Chapter 1: When death happens

The first few hours

I did not know what to do with myself or just in general. My son had been sick for years and dying for months, so there was no element of surprise. But I felt numb in those first few hours.

The first few hours after someone you care about has died are often emotionally challenging. What should you do? Whom should you call? The answers are different for everyone and can depend on your situation and where the person has died.

Many caregivers want to have family or friends with them, while others want to be alone. Some choose to sit with the person’s body to say their final goodbye. Click on the situation below for more information.

Because you will have members of the healthcare or palliative care team on site, they can guide you through the next steps and how to proceed.

Your next step is to contact the person’s healthcare provider or palliative care provider. They must pronounce the person’s death and sign a death certificate. If they are not available, call 9-1-1 to explain the situation. Police or the medical examiner will need to visit your home before a funeral home is able to come.